Sony Hack: 10 New Developments
More released emails include Jennifer Lawrence's paycheck, possible "Ghostbusters" stars and six studios plan to take on Google
The hits on Sony keep coming.
As journalists pore over hundreds of thousands of internal Sony emails the hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace starting releasing on Nov. 24, more sensitive information continues to be uncovered, including revelations published on Friday by The Daily Beast, Re/code, Gawker and The Verge.
To date, the hackers have released Sony executives' salaries, top-secret profitability data, employees' Social Security numbers, embarrassing emails and at least five films and opened up legal risks for years to come. The most revealing information leaked so far has come from the email exchanges between studio execs and Hollywood’s elite. Here are 10 of the latest developments.
1. Details of Jennifer Lawrence's American Hustle compensation.
A reported email from Andrew Gumpert, president of business affairs and administration for Columbia Pictures, to Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and Doug Belgrad, president of Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group, on Dec. 5, 2013, discussed inequities with the backend compensation each actor would receive on American Hustle.
Gumpert said in the leaked email, according to a report by The Daily Beast, that he had received a call from Jennifer Lawrence's attorneys, Steve Warren and Gretchen Rush, saying the compensation deals were "unfair." The film's director, David O. Russell, and male actors each were slated to receive 9 percent of the pool, while Lawrence and co-star Amy Adams were down to get only 7 percent. Gumpert suggested Megan Ellison, the head of Annapurna Pictures, which co-financed American Hustle, increase Lawrence's take and noted doing so would also give Adams a boost.
Gumpert also noted Lawrence's original deal was 5 percent, which was later raised to 7 percent.
2. North Korea’s reaction to The Interview got Sony executives’ attention.
In The Interview, Seth Rogen and James Franco’s characters are charged with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a move the country blasted in a statement quoted by The Telegraph on June 20. North Korea's reaction concerned Sony execs, according to leaked emails reported by The Daily Beast.
Pascal emailed the Telegraph story to Sony Pictures’ vice chairman Jeff Blake and said they needed to remove all references to Sony from the movie and promotional materials, according to The Daily Beast. She suggested selling the film as a Columbia Pictures release. An email to Sony's legal team from Sony vp Douglas Blakey followed on June 23, noting all references to Sony were being removed from The Interview and replaced with Columbia Pictures.
Read more Sony Hack: Legal Risks for Years to Come
In another email, Sony execs were given a talking point for questions about the film: “This is a Columbia Pictures release and our parent company has little to no involvement in the creative direction taken."
3. Studios plans to fight Google.
According to a report from The Verge, a Jan. 25 leaked email lays out the details for the MPAA and six studios — Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney — to unite in a campaign to fight online piracy. The group's powerful adversary is "Goliath," which the news and tech website suggests is Google.
The January email "lays out a series of legally and technically ambitious new tools, including new measures that would block infringing sites from reaching customers of many major ISPs," The Verge reported. "If successful, the result would fundamentally alter the open nature of the internet."
In the email, MPAA general counsel Steven Fabrizio wrote, "We start from the premise that site blocking is a means to an end."
Dozens of emails collected by The Verge refer to the MPAA venture as "Project Goliath." Some point to examples of copyright-violating search results on Google and the persistence of file-sharing links among Google search rankings. The latter has been a contentious subject among Hollywood studios.
4. George Clooney is eager to take on Rupert Murdoch.
Clooney's reported leaked email shows the actor is ready to direct Hack Attack, based on journalist Nick Davies’ book about the UK phone-hacking scandal at Murdoch’s tabloid empire. "[H]ow much fun are we gonna have…the stakes are higher than citizen kane…if we tell the truth in a compelling way…rupert won’t get time/warner…cnn won’t be fox….i’m so excited to do this film..and for those of you listening in…i’m the son of a news man…everything will be double sourced..so come on with your lawsuits…f—ers...,’ the email from Clooney read, according to The Daily Beast.
5. White House weighs in on Pascal-Rudin emails
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest agreed on Friday that an apology from Pascal was "appropriate" following a leaked email exchange between her and producer Scott Rudin that was considered racist. The emails were about how Pascal should handle a meeting with President Obama at a Jeffrey Katzenberg fundraiser. Pascal and Rudin suggested the president would like movies featuring black casts and especially black comedian Kevin Hart. In response, Earnest stated “there were a lot of people who did have a personal reaction that caused them to cringe,” as quoted by The Hill.
6. Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone and Melissa McCarthy are mentioned for Ghostbusters.
Pascal emailed the director-producer of the original Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman, on Oct. 8 about Paul Feig's all-female remake, noting she heard Lawrence, Stone, McCarthy, Amy Schumer and Lizzy Caplan have said they wanted in, according to emails obtained by The Daily Beast.
7. Signs point to North Korea as the source of Sony's hack.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, was quoted on Friday saying signs are leading to North Korea as the source of the cyberattack. "I would argue as a former FBI agent that, when a nation state says that 'This group … did this on behalf of the North Korean people … and we appreciate it,' as we would say in the FBI: that is a clue," Rogers said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rogers later said: "Obviously they missed the boat on what makes America tick: They may have done more sales for that movie than ever before."
8. Columbia’s head of production speculates about Star Wars films.
The Daily Beast reported on a Sept. 20 email to Pascal from Columbia Pictures president of production, Michael De Luca, which said Boba Fett is rumored to be the subject of one film, and Rian Johnson's take will focus on Luke and Leia's storylines.
9. Sony Pictures Entertainment is fighting back.
The studio is reportedly using a hacking technique to stop — or at least slow — the spread of its stolen emails released by the hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace. Sony has employed a company to issue a counterattack against websites offering files containing its emails, Re/code reported. The measure, called a denial-of-service attack, involves using hundreds of computers in Asia to flood the sites’ servers with requests, which essentially paralyzes the servers and forces them to deliver empty files.
Studios often use the technique to stop pirated copies of thier movies from being downloaded.
10. The new James Bond script is still undergoing an overhaul.
The new James Bond movie, Spectre, which began filming this week, is still being reworked, according to emails released in the hack and reported on by Gawker. The script was released along with emails containing copious notes to improve it. Several attempts by Skyfall writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to revise it continued through November, Gawker reported, and emails point to ongoing studio requests for major revisions.